Basketball Hoops, Goals & Backboards Buying Guide

Before you purchase a basketball hoop, goal or backboard for your playground or gymnasium there are some things you should think about:

At first glance every goal looks alike, but there are some important features to think about:

Construction – Almost every goal is constructed from powder-coated steel. Steel provides strength and durability, while powder coating protects the rim from chipping and scratching due to heavy use and harsh weather.

Goal Style – Goals come in a variety of styles:

A standard goal has a metal ring, or rim, and possibly some reinforcing bars.

Similar to a standard goal, a double-rim goal features two rims stacked one on top of the other for added strength.

A breakaway goal has one or two vertical return springs in the backplate that return the rim to its original position after being dunked on. It also has a horizontal spring, called a positive lock mechanism. When enough pressure is applied to the positive lock mechanism, it releases the goal from the backboard, helping prevent player injury.

Mounting Style – You'll also want to consider whether or not you need a front-mount or rear-mount goal. Front-mount goals are more popular and much better at absorbing stress and pressure from players hanging on them. This means less replacement cost and less chance of injury. All breakaway rims are front-mount goals. Rear-mount goals tend to be less expensive, but aren't nearly as durable. Rear-mount goals are only recommended when replacing an existing goal on a rear-mount backboard. Otherwise, front-mount goals are the better option.

Mounting Compatibility – Always make sure that your goal's backplate has a hole pattern that matches the hole pattern of the backboard you will be mounting it to. Hole patterns are listed in the product specifications for both goals and backboards.

Net Type – Do you want a standard or anti-whip net? An anti-whip net is made from heavy-braided nylon to reduce the net whip common with lighter weight nets. It is also more expensive than a standard net.

Construction – Backboards are constructed from various materials:

Aluminum backboards are durable, and they're excellent in wet climates because they don't rust.

Steel backboards are the most durable and are often times treated with a graffiti-resistant, powder-coat finish. This makes them ideal for outdoor playgrounds where rough play and heavy use is common.

Tempered glass backboards are used by most high school, college and professional teams. They are the preferred backboard for indoor use because they are professional looking, easy to clean and provide the best play and rebounding.

When your hoop is outdoors, polycarbonate or acrylic backboards are an excellent alternative to glass backboards. They provide a similar play and rebounding experience to glass, but are more durable.

Occasionally, you'll find backboards that are made of some other kind of material, such as fiberglass, which has a play and rebounding quality similar to tempered glass and polycarbonate, or polyethylene, which is rust-free like aluminum.

Shape – Backboards come in two common shapes—fan-shaped and rectangular. Fan-shaped backboards are less expensive and have a streamlined look, but rectangular backboards provide more room to make bank shots (when the ball hits the backboard before going into the net).

Goal Mounting Style – Like basketball goals, you'll need to consider whether your backboard has a front-mount or rear-mount goal mounting style, and make sure that it is the same as the goal you'll be using. Rear-mount backboards are recommended for replacement only. Otherwise, front-mount boards are the better option.

Goal Mounting Compatibility - Always make sure that your backboard has a hole pattern that matches the hole pattern of the goal you'll be mounting to it. Hole patterns are listed in the product specifications for both goals and backboards.

Pole Mounting Compatibility – In addition to considering goal mounting compatibility, you'll need to make sure that your backboard will work with the pole or mounting system you're attaching it to. You can determine this by measuring the distance between the mounting brackets or holes on the back of the backboard and making sure your pole or mounting system accepts these dimensions. You'll find these dimensions in the product specifications for each backboard.

Basketball hoops, or systems, include a goal, backboard and either a pole or mounting structure to attach them to. Goals and backboards are covered above. Here are some other things to keep in mind:

System Type

In wall-mount systems, the backboard and goal are attached to a mount made of sturdy metal—usually steel, and the mount is attached to the wall using wooden wall boards and support chains. Some mounts are stationary, while others can swing up or to the side when not in use. Most mounts have a telescoping adjustment that lets you find the ideal distance from the wall.

Playground hoops use a pole in the place of a mount. It is important to consider what your pole is made out of, its thickness and how far into the ground it is buried. All of these factors affect the stability of the system during play.

Portable hoops are similar to playground hoops, but rather than having a pole that is buried in the ground, they usually have wheels and can be moved from one location to another.

Safe Play Area - Also consider the safe play area, or setback. This measures the distance from the face of the backboard to the pole. The greater the safe play area, the greater the player safety during aggressive play. This is particularly important on systems that are regularly lowered for slam dunking.

Adjustability - Do you need a fixed-height or adjustable hoop? This decision usually depends upon the ages of the players and the level of basketball being played. The official high school and college competition goal is 10 feet high, but younger players will also want to lower the goal for slam dunking.

Accessories help keep your basketball hoop safe and efficient. Here are some accessories to consider:

Padding is important for the safety of your players. You'll find pole padding and backboard padding to help protect players during aggressive play.

A structure catch is a great addition to any wall-mount system. It attaches to your ceiling and locks onto your wall-mount hoop to provide added support.

A winch uses a hand crank to raise and lower your gym's basketball hoops.

If you know what you're looking for, click here to shop our great selection of basketball hoops, goals and backboards online.

Still have questions about which basketball hoop, goal or backboard is right for you? Give our friendly sales team a call at 1-800-260-2776. We're always happy to help.